A movie that many have expected me to review is The Expendables 2, which opened in theaters around the United States on August 17th. Truth be told, I was looking forward to reviewing it far more than I was looking forward to actually seeing it. I wasn’t particularly fond of the original, and felt it was little more than an easy paycheck for the stars involved. If I wanted to see an action-packed film with one-liners and some cheesy humor sprinkled in to accent the shallow plot, I would prefer to watch any of the movies that made these guys famous in the first place. It wasn’t an homage to 80s & 90s action films so much as it was a lot of noise and mindless action. All The Expendables needed was a few robots and Michael Bay, and it could have been a new Transformers sequel.
But I digress.
I will not be reviewing The Expendables 2, nor will I be seeing it in theaters. I made the decision to opt out of this movie after learning some very interesting information about events that occurred during filming. While in Bulgaria, in addition to being fined for destruction of plant life (shrubs and trees were removed), a cave where bats hibernate was heavily disturbed. This might not seem like a big deal at first. “So what if a few bats were disturbed?”
The cave in question is where over 30,000 bats hibernate annually. During filming, the bats were exposed to construction, extremely loud noises, and large groups of people, which led to undue stress and restlessness during a time when they should be able to hibernate in peace. After filming was completed in late 2011, a count of the bats was taken and only 8,000 bats were found. That’s approximately 22,000 bats unaccounted for, either driven away by all the disturbance (and hopefully still alive elsewhere) or dead in the cave. The cherry on top of this is that many of the species are endangered.
The people behind Expendables 2 did get a permit to film in the area, though earlier this year a court in Bulgaria decided that the company had violated the laws surrounding the permit and what crews could actually do in the area. From what I have read, it appears that these violations should have been investigated by Bulgarian authorities, but someone dropped the ball. While this leaves those people partially responsible, the brunt of the blame rests on the shoulders of the movie crew.
I don’t consider myself an animal rights activist, and I probably wouldn’t consider this to be a big deal had only a small number of bats been affected. With a number as high as 22,000 however, I simply cannot ignore what the negligence of the people behind a movie has caused. 22,000 bats, many of which were endangered, and many of those could be dead as the result of having their hibernation disturbed. The fines alone, which could cripple an independent or smaller film venture, are a drop in the bucket for the film’s budget. The information on the bats didn’t come out until much later after filming completed however, so what do they care?
For a movie like this, many people already know whether they are going to see it or not. It’s like a Twilight movie or Star Wars: the fans are going to see it anyway. Sure, some people might be influenced by friends to either see it or not, but this is just “one of those movies”. All I can say is that my money will not be going toward their bottom-line, and I refuse to see a film from a company that could be so negligent in regard to endangered species in such large numbers.
I’ve provided links to sites that contributed to my research for this, and I hope you will read them before making a decision to see The Expendables 2. If you do see the movie, I honestly hope that it is much better than the original and is an enjoyable film. As for me, I’d rather see a movie without a massive real-life death toll.
I’m Papa Kenn, and come back next Wednesday for the next real review: Paranorman!
“The Expendables 2 Kills Endangered Bats”
“The Expendables 2 Accused of Vandalizing Bat Colonies”
“Bats Died in Bulgarian Cave over ‘Expendables 2’ Filming”